“If I only had an hour to save the world, I’d spend fifty-five minutes defining the questions and only five minutes finding the answers.” – Albert Einstein
Before we dive into our talk this week, I want to reiterate that any claim that one can thrive in a country where the government is flying headless is false. Leadership, like it or not, is everything.
Visionary leadership facilitates good governance at all levels. It creates a conducive environment on an equal footing where honest workers like you and me enjoy the fruits of your labor and the lazy find it difficult.
Distraught leadership, on the other hand, distorts the terrain so severely that while people like you and I toil day and night without making tangible progress; some, for example, those women who were deployed the other day to insult the secretary to the president and cabinet, compose and sing songs of praise to the same person alongside non-existent leadership.
That said, let me start.
After about two years of the reign of former President Peter Mutharika, those who expected nothing good from his leadership had been right.
Why were they pessimistic? This is because they had seen in him a dearth of effective leadership qualities during his troubled times as head of the Ministries of Justice, Education and Foreign Affairs.
In fact, it was as if he had a magnet that courted trouble. The first signs appeared during his tenure as Minister of Justice. The flurry of legislation under his leadership forced the Hon. Henry Phoya, then a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backbench MP, to call his own party’s legislation “bad laws”.
Second, when Mutharika was conveniently transferred to the less controversial Ministry of Education, the academic freedom saga erupted and lingered longer than it should have under a competent minister.
His transfer to the Foreign Office did little to whitewash his now tarnished image and worrisome leadership prospects.
“Where there is a corpse, there the vultures will gather” (Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37) proved prophetic in his case because as soon as he was appointed Foreign Secretary, the diplomatic row with the British government erupted.
Thrice tried and tested as a minister, thrice Peter Mutharika failed to rise to the occasion each time.
So, on what grounds would someone base the optimism that he was the leader that Malawians were waiting for?
With Peter Mutharika’s performance, most – at least 60% of Malawians running in the new 2020 presidential elections, thought we had bottomed out and could not go any lower.
“Whoever succeeds Peter Mutharika,” the speech continued, now proving wishful thinking, “will look good because having hit rock bottom, we can’t go any lower.”
Pious hope indeed!
What has improved? What could potentially improve during the remainder of President Chakwera’s term?
• Servant leadership? Rhetorically, yes, of course. Excellent speeches without action.
• Unite Malawi? What hitherto divided elements have merged under this mantra?
• Prosper together? With whom ? Family and friends? Maybe. The masses? A big NO.
• End corruption? Let’s not even go there.
• Rule of law? Where is a “civil war” among senior law enforcement officials raging unabated? Mhhhh. Where women dressed in the colors of the ruling party go wild to insult the first civil servant who is simply trying to do her job professionally? A certain rule of law indeed!
In short: we are back to square one, if not square minus. The more things change, the more they stay the same if you’re lucky, and the more they regress if you’re unlucky.
This is why we need to go back to the drawing board and rethink how we choose the party leaders who will eventually become leaders of Malawi.
A painful fact is that because our presidents will always be drawn from political parties, all Malawians of good will must rethink their position on the fence, hoping that political parties will muddle through and produce a worthy leader.
By the way, I stumbled upon an interesting discussion the other day. There is a school of thought suggesting that a mistake we have consistently made in Malawi is to empower individuals whose financial problems and responsibilities outweigh their worth.
This school of thought holds that when elected, their top priority is to eradicate their personal poverty at the expense of the masses. Hence the unnecessary expenditure via allowances. Worse, as soon as they discover that neither Mark Zuckerberg nor Bill Gates have become billionaires thanks to per diems, they switch to corruption. Some even before taking the oath, apparently, “without knowing it”.
” Without knowing “. How?
I mean, here I am, minding my own business. Living within my means and generally finding things difficult, like everyone else. Then from the blues comes this benefactor,
“Bwana Mwapiya Muulupale, would you like a vehicle?
I answer in the affirmative.
“Maybe a Hummer, Merc or Bima? asks the guy.
I smile shyly because I know I can’t afford it, but then again, you never know, so I don’t talk.
“No worries,” the dude said, “I like you, Maps. I like your style blah blah blah; I think you deserve a Merc and maybe a Range Rover or a Lexus.
Stunned, I stare at the guy, but before I can find a mouth to speak with, the guy is rambling,
“I’ll buy one for you and one for your wife, no strings attached.”
Now, because I am a “believer”, I shout very loudly: “I receive!” » and a few months later, oh surprise, I have a bill of lading and other customs documents stating that I am now the proud owner of a Mercedes that the wife will use to go to the market or the saloon and a Range Rover for me since it’s an all-terrain vehicle.
And I live happily ever after, with zero; I repeat, zero conflict of interest in the very likely and foreseeable event that my benefactor guy one day wants “favors” from people I can arm force or from a ministry or department of which I am responsible.
Coming back to the debate about whether the future lies in electing wealthy people, I will continue to follow and will speak soon.
For now, I want to share the first lesson taught to most seekers as summarized in the quote above. In short: solving a problem starts with asking the right question(s).
In the clunker scenario above;
• Is it correct to say that I “received” because I am poor?
• Conversely, is it correct to assume and conclude that if I already had a Merc and a Range Rover and was already rich, I would not have exclaimed, “I get”?
To be continued….
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